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`THE FOUR DIAMONDS' IS TRAGIC, INSPIRATIONAL

It's been 23 years since Chris Millard died, but the years haven't dimmed the memories for his parents.

Just weeks ago, as a particularly emotional scene from a movie about Chris' life was played, his father, Charles, stood off the side of a the room and wiped tears from his eyes.It's not that they want to forget. They want to remember. And they want others to remember as well.

Which is why they cooperated fully in the making of "The Four Diamonds," which premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on the Disney Channel.

"It's very important to us," said Irma Millard, Chris' mother. "I think it proves a point that no matter how short a life, you can make an impact. I think it will give a lot of hope to people."

Indeed, the scene that brought tears to Charles Millard's eyes recounted Chris telling his father exactly that.

The movie is a mix of the facts surrounding 14-year-old Chris' death from a rare form of cancer and a story he wrote - "The Four Diamonds." It's the story of a young knight - Sir Millard - who is on a quest that closely parallels Chris' real-life struggles.

As with all such projects, the plot doesn't precisely follow the facts - but it's close.

"There was some artistic license given and taken," Irma Millard said. "And that was fine, in order to make the fantasy and the reality work through."

Most of the changes were minor - the addition of a friend at the hospital, a change in cities, giving Chris' sister the lead in a ballet, changing his father's profession from public school to private music teacher.

The biggest difference was giving the doctor in the movie (played by Christine Lahti) a cold, seemingly uncaring shell - because Lahti also doubles as the evil sorceress in Chris' story. In real life, the doctors couldn't have been more caring, according to the Millards, though they understand why the doctor is portrayed as she is.

"We couldn't be any more pleased with the results," Charles Millard said.

And the movie turned out to be a touching drama - something families can sit down and watch together.

Proceeds from the movie's premiere, in Hershey, Penn., went to The Four Diamonds Fund - a cancer-treatment fund founded by the Millards after Chris' death. It's one more way they remember their son.

"Chris was a very special person," Charles Millard said. "But really no more special than so many hundreds of kids that we've met that are going through a similar situation. Each one has his own story to tell, I'm sure."